Solitude. Not loneliness of which I speak. Not isolation, nor seclusion. Neither separation, segregation, emptiness. Rather. The peaceful equilibrium without. That quiet moment spent. In prayer. In supplication, meditation, reflection. In contemplative thought. Tranquil moments that restore the soul within. Returning the body to its truest nature, a relaxed state of being. Reinstating the mind to calm, serene awareness of all that life is not. While reminding one of all that Life, in its brutiful, messy sacredness, truly is.
My life is many things, but quiet, it is surely not. Not for lack of trying, mind you.
But just now. Quiet. A word fitly chosen. Describing at least my house, if not my state of being within this tiny, framed window of time. Calm, silent. Still. So quiet I can finally hear things gone unheard for quite some time. The wind moving around the outside corners of a farmhouse, where centuries-old wood has joined to form pillars of a home. The rustle of an artificial evergreen wreath against a frosted window pane. The hum of the aging washing machine, churning darks into frothy white, just one floor up. The click, click of my computer beside me, my constant companion. The breathy whir of a furnace as it puffs heat into frigid air.
The wheezy sound in my lungs when I breathe deeply. Reminding me again of why I so desperately need this quiet. This moment of solitude.
I wasn’t meant to have it, a quiet moment. Or should I say, it came unexpected. I was rushing. As per usual. Meetings, deadlines, e-mails after school. The dash home to start the pork simmering before carting Four off to the hairdressers for their quarterly trims. The hustle back home again with One very upset about the artistic state of The Haircut. So then. The other parent driving that same child back again to the hairdresser to explain the dire straits of the situation; thus, the need to correct it (The Haircut) before practice tonight, before the inevitable demise when all is unveiled to friends at school tomorrow.
Serious, life-altering stuff.
The potatoes boiling over, the supper meltdowns, the clock ticking. And then. The tumbled rush out the door, a spewing of boots, coats, mitts, hats and bodies spilling onto the iced doorstep, then further onto the slick walkway toward the half ton. And after it all, I am left spent. Still feeling the need to clean up the remains of the day, field phone calls, and mop up floors before making my own trek to town after the tedious chores are completed.
Bundling up in my less than attractive winter attire, then running out to the van to allow it the minute of idle time necessary to get it going, I realize this: my husband has the van keys. They are in his pocket, at the church. And I am completely stranded, whilst the other members of my music group are waiting in a warm sanctuary of a little white church. For me. And rather than seeing this as a moment of blessing, a free space in the Game of Life, I see it as a set-back.
And I want to wring my husband’s neck.
But instead, I resist the urge. Much to his complete relief, I might add! And taking a deep breath, I make the necessary calls to cancel my evening plans. After doing so, the sense of peace that washes over me I might have never known. Because now, and all because of botched plans, I have this whole half of an hour to myself. And it is mine. I can spend it as I wish. Wasting it lavishly or using it sparingly. It is mine to spend. The added bonus that comes with this newly acquired freedom is the quiet accompaniment that is my friend, Solitude.
To think, I might have never known her.
“To make the right choices in life, you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitude, which most people are afraid of, because in the silence you hear the truth and know the solutions.” (Deepak Chopra)
In order to listen to the cries of one’s soul, to hear truth and know solutions, one needs to block out the noise. Even but for the briefest of moments. Cutting off the voices that shout to us, “come here, go there,” that call “this is all-important, this is a necessity.” Shutting out the images, the icons, the media, the busyness. And telling oneself that it’s okay. To be alone.
To be quiet.
More importantly, it is sometimes the setbacks in life that bring us the most joy, the most revelation. For all of life is meant to be. Even the valleys. And in our darkest, most solitary moments, even in the setbacks, we discover who we truly are. And all we were meant to be.
And if we are not quieted, we miss hearing the still small Voice reminding us. Why this is an absolute necessity.